The Punjabi Connection

Lakshmi Puja

No city in India can represent as an approximate microcosm of India as well as Mumbai can. The city’s cosmopolitan essence blurs regionalism across class.

It is a melting pot of India, the best of North and South. Even though some political parties play on the regional insecurities of some of its residents, most residents defy it. An obvious side effect of this diversity is the city's food. The khaana-peena [food & drink] habits change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. This is a quality of Mumbai I specially cherish and I can assure you so does my palate.

This week I am going to explore the Punjabi cuisine in the city-rich, ghee filled, heart felt, delicious food. An open celebration of all things loud, homely and tasty. Regional identities are proudly protected by most Indians but for some reason I do not seem to fall in this category. Even though I am supposedly Punjabi by nature I do not speak my mother tongue and for that matter neither do my parents. Whenever I mention the fact that I do not speak my ‘mother tongue’ to others I am met with oohs and aahs as if it is a cardinal sin. Possibly the only thing that connects me to my diluted regional identity is its food. There are a number of restaurants which serve Punjabi food in this city but two of my favourites are the ones that serve simple home style food- the famous Guru Kripa in Sion and the Crystal Restaurant on Marine Drive.

Guru Kripa Ka Samosa.

Samosa is the king of all Indian snacks and Guru Kripa is Bombay’s samosa king. There is song ode to Bombay which is quiet popular on Google which goes something like this:

Woh Elco ki pani puri,
Woh Chowpatty ki chaat,

Woh Naturals ki ice cream,
Wah usme thi kuch baat.

Woh Tiwari ki mithai,
Woh raste ka dosa,

Woh Shivsagar ki pav bhaji
Aur Guru Kripa ka samosa.

This eatery located just off Sion circle has become a tourist attraction of sorts. Every morning over 30,000 samosas are made at this virtual samosa factory and dispersed all over the city for consumption. Guru Kripa is said to produce 1/3rd of Mumbai’s samosas available in cinema halls/multiplexes, college canteens, etc

I paid a visit to Guru Kripa last Friday. Here is what I ordered:

Samosa Chole” (Rs 12.) is their most popular dish.
Samosa Chole - Rs 12 - 25cents
[This is Mumbai's more famous samosa.Seen here topped with chana (chickpeas), sweet tamarind chutney and a garnish of onions and mint]

Being over indulgent I also sampled their humongous “Chole Batura” (Rs. 32).
Chole Batura - Rs 32 - 70 cents
['Chole Batura' - spicy chana [chole] (chick peas) with yummy puffed, deep fried batura (type of bread made of super-refined flour). Served with Raita (salted curd) , papad and a garnish of onions and mint.]

Gurukripa also serves favourites like ragda patties, sev puris and bhel puris, south Indian snacks and kulfis with faloodas. The restaurant interestingly does not serve any aerated soft drinks and serves only rich creamy lassis.

So next time you are in Sion and you are feeling a tad hungry visit Guru Kripa for a quick refuel stop.

Ghar Ka Khana at Crystal.

Living alone ? Tired of eating the tasteless food at you office canteen ? Missing your mother's cooking ? Then I have a solution for you. It is the only restaurant that I have been to in Mumbai that servces hot phulkas to your table. There is also rajma [lima beans], baigan-bharta [a brinjal preperation] and alloo matur [patotoes and peas] to die for and all surprisingly easy on the wallet.

One of my favourite shows on television is No Reservations by Anthony Bourdain on Discovery Travel and Living. Mr. Bourdain is a strict believer and I am too of the fact that the best food is served at most non-descript restaurants - the ones on which you need to take a chance on.
Crystal is one of these restaurants where cosmetic measure ( read ambience) accounts for nothing and the only communication here is via the food they serve. The restaurant is located on Marine Drive at the corner after Wilson College behind a well stocked coconutwallah. The restaurant has kept its fifties d├ęcor intact with flaking walls and a wood rimmed roof, complemented by a melange of old and new ceiling fans as well as antique table fans.

[Taking in the athmosphere]

The menu is fairly straightforward and vegetarian- sabzis, parathas and some rice dishes; the most expensive thing on the menu is priced 50 rupees and happens to be an unlimited thali.

Here what we ordered.
More on my plate
[Top left: Bhaigan ka bhurta [mashed brinjal cooked on an open flame],Bottom Right: Rajma ,Cente: Dal fry, Raita and an Aloo [potato] and Mulli[radish] Paratha [stuffed bread]. Not in picture: 2 Salted Lassis and hot pulkas/rotis]

Every item was simple but delicious and I left the restaurant with a distinct feeling that I had over eaten yet again.

Here are some of my previous food posts.

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Nick said...

Hooray for food posts!
By the way, have you ever considered doing some panorama shots? My friend Jake swears by AutoStitch.

Suds said...

Hey man there is no place like Mumbai for food. Mann those pictures are so delicious. I wanted to catch first flight back to Mumbai...:( Keep blogging... Great stuff...Enjoy

Mridula said...

Mouth watering post.

Sid said...

Dude, I had the Chicken Satay at Malaka Spice, blew my bloody mind :D

Shruthi said...

You are telling me now?! After I left Mumbai?? Sigh!

And the snap of Crystal, taken from the top - is very good.

Rhyncus said...

Whew...I wasn't able to spot Crystal during my last visit to the area and was saddened thinking another old-worldly placed had succumbed. Thanks!
As for Punjabi food, I've had some nice times at Khaan-e-Khaaz in Bandra. Try that biryani of theirs which is served in a matka, if you haven't already.

Sakshi said...

Dont we Punjabis Rock !! :)

Suyog said...

Nice one again! I was in Mumbai during the last week of december and I really wished I had this information then. My wife and I really struggled to get home like food but met with little success :-( Finally we liked the Veggie World restaurant in Phoenix High Street. Simple nice food and great ambience. The price too was not so heavy on the wallet.

All in all, Mumbai is a great city and it is wonderful to read about it all in your blog.

Wish you a very happy new year!

MotoRama said...

Damn!Why did i see ur blog at 1 pm ? I shud avoid reading such blogs during lunch time :) Delicious pictures and the write-up!

Anonymous said...

Hi there Akshay!

Happen to drop by your Blog, and was pretty impressed.

Love the way you have done the styling of your Blog. Is it something that anyone can do on their own or does one ought to have to have Blogspot Plus?

Wouldn't mind some help in doing my own blog.

Can u help?


aparna said...

hey akshay,
i am back....boy the meal at crystal looks yummy.looks wholesome too..
i envy anthony bourdain.i would kill to have his job.i like both the programmes no reservatin and cooks tour.

r r said...

oh man i am hungry!!

Pradeep said...

Good post on food. Truly the city is a melting pot, yet there is space for each identity.

HutumpaNcha said...

firts time to your site..nice pics
The photos make me so very nostalgic

Sangeeta said...

those samosas look yummy.........

:(( and i am on diet

Raghu said...

I am in Minneapolis, US. I was in Mumbai for 3 months during 1997. Ate at CRYSTAL almost daily. There is no better in the entire world outside of your home for home-kind of food.
Thanks for posting the stuff!

Anonymous said...

Man o man, that post was awesome. Except now I'm stuck in desperation LONGING for Crystal food.

Thats my take on crystal (not exciting as yours though)

Anonymous said...


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AaaDee !! said...

Hi Akshay

The pictures are awesome and I have opened ur blog during my lunch time..n I am just feeling like having some samosas..:)

Your blog is really very well-written !

Anonymous said...

i totally agree with u ...we always over eat at crystal...the food and the hospitality at the restaurant is too good...try any dish and u will like it...bilkul rich ghar ka khana...

Anonymous said...

Crystal is just too good. Everytime I am in Mumbai, a visit to Crystal is a must. Even I dragged my parents with me couple of years ago just so that they may enjoy this most yummy food served in town.